A CONSTRUCTION chief has called for workers to take more responsibility for safety on the territory's building sites. Patrick Chan Wing-pung, the secretary-general of the Hongkong Construction Association, said employees should face tough penalties for flouting the rules. He claimed the Government came down too hard on contractors but often failed to penalise the workers, who were usually to blame. Last week, the Labour Department announced measures to step up safety. A Government working group is also investigating the whole safety issue after the deaths of 12 people last month when a construction site lift in North Point plunged 17 storeys to the ground. Mr Chan said new rules would only work if they were properly enforced. He claimed workers on sites were often employed by sub-contractors but, if anything went wrong, it was the main contractor who was likely to take the blame. ''Workers will often by-pass a safety device if it is annoying them or holding them up,'' he said. ''They are sometimes paid on the amount of work they do, so it is not uncommon to see them short-circuiting the rules. He said installing safety devices was only the first step of the procedure. ''Ninety nine times out of a hundred the main contractor will be prosecuted but the workers will not be,'' Mr Chan said. ''I don't think safety devices will necessarily work unless the authorities police them properly. But I don't think they have enough resources to do so. Handing out penalties to the contractor will not improve safety. ''The responsibility has to go further down to the worker.'' Mr Chan wants to see licensing introduced for workers using heavy equipment. If they were responsible for accidents, then that would go on a record so future employers would know about it, he said. The Labour Department has included proposals to require contractors to use registered engineers to examine, assemble and operate heavy machinery, in a series of proposals designed to improve safety standards. Operators of the equipment will be required to undergo training and meet licensing requirements. The equipment includes tower cranes, mobile lifting appliances, excavators and hoists. The new measures will be incorporated into existing legislation and introduced over the next few years. Another plan is to make automatic safe-load indicators on cranes compulsory. Many big contractors have already introduced the device - which warns an operator if he is exceeding the load limit of the crane. David Meyers, the managing director of the British-based crane safety firm, Wylie Systems, said he was encouraged by the positive attitude in Hongkong's construction industry. He visited Hongkong last week to market his firm's Rated Capacity Indicator and discussed the planned regulations with local companies. ''The attitude of people in the construction industry is positive. Safety is on everyone's agenda.'' Mr Meyers said. ''The sheer scale of construction here is incredible and the standard of the industry can only be increased by a more responsible attitude towards safety.''